The severe flood situation in the western parts of Maharashtra forced Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis to cancel the remaining events of the first phase of his Maha Janadesh Yatra and undertake an aerial survey of the flood-affected Sangli and Kolhapur districts on Thursday.
The chief minister announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the relatives of the deceased.
“The floods will be declared a ‘natural calamity’ at an appropriate time,” Mr Fadnavis said after supervising the rescue efforts.
He also announced that neighbouring Karnataka had agreed to release five lakh cusecs of water from the Almatti dam in North Karnataka.
“I spoke to Karnataka chief minister B.S. Yediyurappa, who agreed to release five lakh cusecs water from the dam. This will help bringing down water level in Sangli,” Mr Fadnavis said.
Incessant rainfall over the past few days caused heavy flooding in Kolhapur and Sangli districts, with the district headquarters of the latter completely marooned.
Over two lakh people have been living without electricity in flood-affected areas. Several water-supply schemes have been dysfunctional, while crops and houses were damaged.
Eleven rescue teams, including five of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF), were operating in Sangli and five more teams from the defence ministry have been sought for the district.
Airlifting of stranded people will be the last resort, as it requires stable weather to enable hovering, Mr Fadnavis said, adding that sixty boats have been pressed into rescue operations in the two flood-affected districts.
The chief minister informed the media that floods affected at least 223 villages across Kolhapur, while 18 have been completely marooned.
As of Thursday, over two lakh people have been rescued. Moreover, 97,000 people had already moved to safer places on their own. At least 38,000 people have been staying in relief camps at 152 places in Kolhapur district.